When to Replace a Knee
by T. Lee
Common medical wisdom has it that you should wait as long as possible before getting a knee replacement. After all, even titanium doesn’t last forever, and you don’t want a second replacement in your twilight years.
But that wisdom is getting old fast. Knee replacements routinely last 20 or more years, which means they’re likely to last the average candidate’s lifetime.
There’s good reason not to wait until joint pain becomes unbearable. By the time all the cartilage has worn out and walking becomes agony, the average person has become an invalid. The worse off you are going into a surgery, the worse you’ll be coming out. Entering as a cripple is a guaranteed way to ensure that you don’t make a complete recovery or regain full use of the limb.
If your doctor keeps telling you to wait, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion, or insist that he recommend a replacement. “Wait until you can’t bear it anymore,” isn’t a good recommendation. If you’re hobbling with a walker, you deserve a replacement. In addition, men tend to get a replacement recommended faster than women, so if you’re female, don’t take “no” for an answer when you think you deserve a “yes.”